Geophysical Services in the US Industry Market Research Report from IBISWorld has Been Updated

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As investment in oil and gas exploration returns, operators will experience sustained growth; rising crude oil and gas prices will cause a rebound in demand. For these reasons, industry research firm IBISWorld has updated a report on the Geophysical Services industry in its growing industry report collection.

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Rising energy prices will drive demand for exploration into onshore natural gas deposits

The Geophysical Services industry surveys and maps subsurface terrains to find mineral and energy deposits and other physical features, such as fault lines. While the industry primarily serves mining and energy companies, it also contracts services to government agencies and professional services providers, such as consultant engineers. The industry's heavy reliance on energy companies has resulted in extreme fluctuations during the past five years, with revenue expected to jump as much as 9.0% in 2012 and fall as much as 18.9% in 2009, when crude oil prices plummeted. In the five years to 2012, IBISWorld estimates that revenue will decrease 1.5% annually to $3.4 billion. “The industry's long-term growth has largely been the result of investment in oil and gas exploration,” says IBISWorld industry analyst Kevin Culbert. “It has also benefited from the development of advanced 3-D seismic survey equipment.”

Unfortunately for Geophysical Services industry operators, these factors were unable to stop the rapid decline in crude oil prices in 2009, which led to falling revenue. In 2010, industry growth was hampered by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which caused a six-month moratorium on deep-sea oil drilling. “Luckily for industry operators, revenue is expected to rise in 2012 as oil prices and production increase,” adds Culbert. IBISWorld estimates that the industry's profit margins have also risen over the past decade, due to technological enhancements and improved efficiency, which have reduced the number of exploratory drills that are required.

The decline in demand in 2009 and 2010 forced some players to leave the industry. Despite growth in the number of enterprises during the mid-2000s, the number of firms operating in this industry has fallen an average 1.0% annually to 4,469 firms. An estimated 78.4% of those operators are nonemployers. The industry has a medium and increasing market share concentration. Several large acquisitions have increased industry concentration in recent years, including the takeover of the leading US firm, Veritas DGC, by major player Compagnie Generale de Geophysique (CGG). Despite its medium concentration of ownership, the Geophysical Services industry is characterized by many small-scale establishments. While these companies typically operate with a team of two to four people, large-scale multi-establishment enterprises generally have small surveying teams across dispersed geographic locations.

Through 2017, IBISWorld forecasts that revenue for the Geophysical Services industry will grow. The industry's growth generally follows the projected rise of investment in US petroleum and natural gas exploration. Rising energy prices will likely bolster demand for the assessment of onshore natural gas deposits and reservoirs. For more information, visit IBISWorld’s Geophysical Services in the US industry report page.

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IBISWorld industry Report Key Topics

This industry gathers, interprets, and maps geophysical data. Firms often specialize in locating and measuring the extent of subsurface resources, such as oil, gas, and minerals, but they may also conduct surveys for engineering purposes. Firms use a variety of surveying techniques depending on the purpose of the survey, including magnetic surveys, gravity surveys, seismic surveys, or electrical and electromagnetic surveys.

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Industry Life Cycle
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Globalization & Trade
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Market Share Concentration
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About IBISWorld Inc.
Recognized as the nation’s most trusted independent source of industry and market research, IBISWorld offers a comprehensive database of unique information and analysis on every US industry. With an extensive online portfolio, valued for its depth and scope, the company equips clients with the insight necessary to make better business decisions. Headquartered in Los Angeles, IBISWorld serves a range of business, professional service and government organizations through more than 10 locations worldwide. For more information, visit or call 1-800-330-3772.

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Gavin Smith
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